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While city departments have been told to cut spending by 2 percent next year, the Evanston Public Library board is planning to increase spending by nearly 6 percent.

The mayorally-appointed library board, meeting Wednesday evening, reviewed plans from Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons to increase spending 5.8 percent next year to just over $7 million.

While the board didn’t vote on the budget, there was little evidence of objections to it during Wednesday’s meeting from board members.

Funding for most of the increased library spending would come from a 5 percent boost in library property tax revenue. That tax levy generates about 87 percent of the library’s total funding.

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But Danczak Lyons also hopes to increase voluntary gifts and grants to the library by about 8 percent next year, to a total of $242,500. That would raise the percentage of total revenue that the library receives in gifts to just under 3.5 percent.

The library also plans to increase spending from its endowment fund by 8.7 percent next year, to a total of $185,800, or about 2.6 percent of its total spending.

Most of its other revenue comes from a variety of fees, fines and rental income.

The library only receives about 1.4 percent of its revenue from a state per capita grant, so it’s not greatly impacted by the impasse in Springfield over the state’s budget — although Danczak Lyons says the uncertainty over state funding generally has cause the library staff to skip applying for some discretionary state grants recently, after seeing such grants to other libraries clawed back by the state.

The proposed library spending increase for next year is about half the size of last year’s boost — which drew opposition from some aldermen. It’s also much smaller than the one adopted two years ago, after the library board first gained authority to set its own budget.

But, despite what Danczak Lyons anticipates will be an increase in overall property values in the city of about 5 percent, the new library spending plan will still exceed the state tax rate cap for the library of 0.234 percent, meaning the City Council could, if it chooses, make cuts in the library spending plan to keep it within the cap.

The library board is scheduled to vote on its budget at a meeting next month.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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